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Three Cups of Controversy

Date: 10/01/2011

Time: 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM

Location: Continuing Education and Conference Center,St. Paul,Twin Cities

Cost: $50


This Saturday morning seminar is offered by the College of Continuing Education's LearningLife program.


Since its publication in 2006, Three Cups of Tea by Minnesota native Greg Mortenson has sold a staggering 4 million copies. Required reading for U.S. service personnel bound for Afghanistan as well as incoming freshmen on college campuses nationwide, it has proven equally popular with members of the Pentagon as with neighborhood book clubs. In its now familiar tale, Mortenson recounts his failed attempt to climb K2 in 1998. After local tribesmen nursed him back to health, he vowed to give something back to the Afghan people. In the ensuing years, he claims to have built more than 140 schools for girls in Afghanistan using donations made to his non-profitorganization, the Central Asia Institute. But last spring a "CBS 60 Minutes" exposé challenged the facts of Mortenson's uplifting story and questioned the financial management of his charitable organization. The report also revived a chronic debate over the standards of accuracy in nonfiction memoirs.

In the first of a new series of Saturday morning seminars, grab a cup of coffee and grapple with the allegations of fabrication and financial impropriety swirling around this international best-seller. Do memoir writers share the same responsibilities to truth and objectivity as historians and journalists? Are these accusations "an unjustified attack," as the author claims and missing the more basic truths of his inspirational book? Are misdeeds ever justified when done in support of noble goals? Join a foreign correspondent who visited schools in Afghanistan with Greg Mortenson and a well-known memoir writer as they engage in a lively discussion of the controversy surrounding Three Cups of Tea. Tuition includes refreshments.

Instructor Sharon Schmickle, B.A. journalism, University of Minnesota, has won numerous awards for her international news coverage. During the 1990s she was Washington correspondent and acting Bureau Chief for the Star Tribune. She was embedded with the U.S. Marines during the invasion of Iraq and has reported from 22 countries including Egypt, Afghanistan, and Thailand. Since 2007, she has covered science and foreign affairs for MinnPost.com.

Instructor Madelon Sprengnether, Ph.D., Yale University, is Regents Professor at the University of Minnesota where she has taught English and creative writing for more than 30 years. She is the author of numerous scholarly works on Shakespeare and Freud as well as two volumes of poetry and two memoirs including the acclaimed Crying at the Movies (Graywolf Press, 2001).


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  • Name: College of Continuing Education Information Center
  • E-mail: cceinfo@umn.edu
  • Phone: 612-624-4000
  • Sponsored by: College of Continuing Education

More information: http://z.umn.edu/498

Disability Options:

To request disability accommodations, please contact the College of Continuing Education Information Center at 612-624-4000 or at cceinfo@umn.edu.

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